Wednesday, December 23, 2009
in Off the Streets of Portland Oregon
Right Now for Cheap!
author: Pearl E Moon
The Portland Scrooge commission must read this, it only takes one signature or maybe several, to get possibly hundreds or even potentially 1000+ homeless people in off the streets right now this week. Read the article to find out how simple, quick, and do-able this could be.
A Portland Victorian Industrial Revolution Christmas Carol....
IT'S SO SIMPLE. one way to get hundreds or thousands of homeless/ near homeless men, women and youth housed right now, with the stroke of a pen:
REVISE the Housing Authority of Portland regulations so that anyone on Section 8 or Public Housing can allow their immediate family to come and stay/ live with them if the homeless person is currently below poverty level, etc. Use a reasonable criteria that includes those factors (person to be added is closely related, homeless/ at risk for homelessness, at or below poverty level, etc).
Close relatives such as parents, grandparents, greatgrandparents: children, grandchildren, greatgrandchildren; brother, sister.
If you are afraid of "abuses", then for God's sake establish some parameters, instead of shutting down this much needed housing completely!
Currently it appears that a very scroogey change was made that will not allow this. So a 60 year old disabled Mom can't allow her 40 year old unemployable daughter to come live with her in many instances, even if the daughter is homeless and she is direct family. Only under certain circumstances could she come in out of the cold mean streets and NOT create a violation for her Mom. (She would have had to be on the Mom's benefits when Mom first applied for them 5 years ago, in order to be allowed to come live with her mom when needed later).
This fairly recent rule also makes the Mom, for instance, endangered if she allows her adult child to come stay with her to keep her off the streets. Why? because she currently could lose her Housing and end up on the street herself if she lets her daughter stay with her. Talk about emotional abuse. Tear a Mom's heart right out with such a choice. SCROOGES!
BUT WITH THE STROKE OF A PEN, the Housing Authority could restore the lost right of a family member to allow their adult child or other homeless close relative, to live with them in their Housing unit. Doesn't this only seem reasonable and normal? Anything short of it is just plain, senseless and inhumane.
ok Scrooges, Christmas Day is almost here! believe me, Hell will be colder than the streets of Portland for you, if you don't sign such a revision. Because there is a God, He cares a lot about the Least of These, and He is watching. He's meaner than Santa when you're bad. You won't just get a lump of coal. You'll get raked over the hot burning coals, no doubt in public.
I really hope we'll hear you singing a different Christmas Carol, before the winter progresses and the Ghost of Christmas Future gets you; the current one is way too Dickensian. Fitting for Victorian Industrial London, but NOT modern Portland.
God Bless us, every one.
Tuesday, December 08, 2009
Iraq war veterans feel they are
being cast aside. Three vets explain in their own words.
- - - - - -
700,000 Homeless Veterans
STRIPES: Helping vets resume civilian lives
March 23, 2008
By Rena Fulka, Staff writer
Former airman Michael White considers himself a success story.
"I was in the Air Force for almost 21 years, and when I retired, I couldn't find a job," said White, who spent most of his military career stationed in Europe.
"I felt disassociated from civilian life, and I had trouble fitting in. I was depressed, and I wanted to talk, but I had no network. After 20 years, when you have to put the Mr. back in
your name, it's not as easy as you thought it would be."
With help from the Rev. Al Garcia at New Life Oak Forest Church, White made a successful transition back to private citizen.
"Al kept me uplifted, got me through the hard times, and I got a job," said the medical administrator from Oak Forest.
Now, White wants to do the same for other returning soldiers through STRIPES, a community forum designed to help able-bodied veterans acclimate to civilian life.
"An able-bodied vet can be just as disabled as anyone who got shot, but he hides it better. He looks fine and smiles, but he's a mess," White said.
National statistics show 700,000 veterans are homeless, unemployed or a combination of both, White said.
"And the homeless ratio is growing and being filled with vets coming out of the service."
White and the Rev. Rob Schoon, of Orland Park, are laying the groundwork for the new Oak Forest ministry, which is an acronym for "Surviving trauma, receiving inner peace,
Schoon is a Marine veteran who now serves as a chaplain with the Marine Corps League. He visits veterans organizations and hospitals on a regular basis.
"Veterans are people who had such productive lives before the service," Schoon said. "They served their country honorably and did what they were supposed to do. Now, they're
back, they're hurting, and someone has to help them. And most people in the civilian world don't understand the problem these guys and girls are having."
go here for the rest >>http://www.southtownstar.com/lifestyles/852080,032308VETSTRIPES.article
When we get figures from the government, we need to think twice if we believe them or not. 700,000 comes from a more realistic rate because some veterans are homeless at
some point during the year. This is not a new trend but it is a higher one. There are chronically homeless veterans who never find a place to live and there are some who find a
place with family or friends. Their luck usually runs out if they happen to have other issues like PTSD and are not getting help. While the government would want us to believe
they have suddenly reduced the number of homeless veterans below 200,000, we still have not seen the data on where the other homeless veterans w
- - - - - - -
Words are another way. Below are the stories of three veterans of this war, told in their voices, edited for flow and efficiency but otherwise
unchanged. They bear out the statistics and suggest that even those who are not diagnosably impaired return burdened by experiences they can
neither forget nor integrate into their postwar lives. They speak of the inadequacy of what the military calls reintegration counseling, of the
immediacy of their worst memories, of their helplessness in battle, of the struggle to rejoin a society that seems unwilling or unable to
comprehend the price of their service. Strangers to one another and to me, they nevertheless tried, sometimes through tears, to communicate
what the intensity of an ambiguous war has done to them. One veteran, Sue Randolph, put it this way: “People walk up to me and say, ‘Thank you
for your service.’ And I know they mean well, but I want to ask, ‘Do you know what you’re thanking me for?’” She, Rocky, and Michael Goss offer
their stories here in the hope that citizens will begin to know.
Monday, December 07, 2009
for late activist Bonnie Tinker
By Allan Brettman, The Oregonian
December 05, 2009, 8:18PM
Allan Brettman/The Oregonian
Mary Dzieweczynski (left) executive director of Bradley Angle, talks about the legacy of
Bonnie Tinker, the founding director of the emergency women's shelter.
The shelter was named for Tinker at a ceremony Saturday. The audience of about 100 people included
Adah Crandall (foreground in picture on original post /see link) who is holding the hand of her mother, Anne Crandall, who
is sitting next to Tinker's son, Alex Tinker.
Robin Kandel dashed down the sidewalk from her Southeast Portland
home, her two young daughters in tow, when the beatings became too
The assaults were a regular part of a 10-year marriage. None was worse
than the time the stitches were torn following a Caesarean delivery a
But she did leave.
Kandel ran to a phone booth and called the Portland Women's Crisis Line,
which patched her through to the Bradley-Angle House for abused
women. The shelter immediately gave Kandel and her daughters a
"That was the first time I realized what I was going through wasn't
normal," Kandel said.
Where to go for help
The Portland area has several resources for battered women, including the
Bonnie Tinker House operated by Bradley Angle, an organization with
emergency, transition and community-based services:
The Portland Women's Crisis Line, 503-235-5333 or 888-235-5333, with 24-
hour resources and support for survivors of domestic and sexual violence,
includes a comprehensive list of agencies at http://pwcl.org
Fifteen years later, she is the emergency services manager for the
women's shelter. And she shared her story of survival Saturday afternoon
at a gathering to honor the founding director of the Bradley-Angle House,
Several friends and family also recounted their memories of Tinker, who
was honored in a ceremony that renamed the shelter the Bonnie Tinker
House, a part of Bradley Angle's domestic violence programs.
Tinker, 61, was killed July 2 in a crash with a truck while riding her
bicycle in Virginia, where she was attending a Quaker conference.
Almost immediately, friends of Tinker thought of naming the emergency
shelter after her. It would be an honor, they believed benefiting the
Portland activist who was a leader in the anti-war group Seriously P.O.'d
Grannies and director of Love Makes a Family, which supports
nontraditional families, including those led by same-sex parents.
They couldn't know that the date they chose to honor Tinker -- the
founding chairwoman of the National Coalition Against Domestic
Violence -- would land in the midst of continued horror for abused
women. Seven women in the region have been victims of violence in the
past 30 days by estranged ex-husbands, husbands or boyfriends.
Before remembering their friend, the 100 or so people gathered in
Southeast Portland observed a moment of silence to remember the slain
women. Then individual voices read each of the women's names and
those of their killer.
"It's really hard to understand, isn't it?" Tinker's partner, Sara Graham,
said before the ceremony began.
But Saturday's event, held at Tinker's spiritual home, the Multnomah
Friends Social Hall on Southeast Stark, was focused most on Tinker -- her
personality, her passions, her efforts to make the world a better place, no
matter who got ticked off in the process.
Betsy Kenworthy, a Social Hall employee, said, "She could be prickly."
The remark elicited laugher.
Kenworthy recounted a remark years ago from someone else at the
Religious Society of Friends, the Quaker group that the feisty Tinker
"Don't you think it's amazing that Bonnie Tinker comes here every
Sunday and sits here in silence for an hour?"
But nothing got more laughs than the comedy tag-team routine from two
of Tinker's sisters, Mary Beth Tinker of Washington, D.C., and Hope
Tinker of Fayette, Mo.
Each took turns reading from a 1978 "Intelligence Report" about Bonnie
Tinker and Mary Beth Tinker that Mary Beth said a friend of Bonnie's
retrieved from a Portland police file.
The two-page document casts suspicion on the two women promoting the
National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, "an organization of grass
roots, radical, women-controlled shelters, and hotlines."
The laughter grew loudest at the last line:
"The Tinker girls are true revolutionaries and they will use anything in
their power to aid the revolution."
Throughout Saturday's speeches, a plaque with Tinker's image sat on a
table, surrounding by burning candles. The plaque, which will hang on a
wall in the emergency shelter, features this quote:
"We understood very clearly from the beginning that starting a house was
help for the people who were going to come there to live, but it also had
to do with our own survival; we had to do something that had some
meaning to untangle this whole mess for all of us."
-- Bonnie Tinker, 1979
-- Allan Brettman
Friday, November 27, 2009
By Amy Hsuan, The Oregonian
November 26, 2009, 6:07PM
Olivia Bucks/The OregonianIn front of the Portland Rescue Mission, Stephanie Jones, 9, center, passes out brown bag dinners to the homeless Wednesday night while her father, Kwik Jones, wearing black hat, carries a box filled with the bagged dinners.Each brown paper bag holds a few slices of turkey on white bread, packets of mustard and mayonnaise, a bag of chips and a box of juice.
It's a meal that 9-year-old Stephanie Jones might pack for school at Beach Elementary in Northeast Portland.
But on the eve of Thanksgiving, each brown bag also holds a gift of goodwill to 100 men and women living on the streets.
Every family has their Thanksgiving traditions, and Jones and her father, Kwik, have theirs: For the past four years, they've made sack meals for the homeless.
"It makes me happy," says Jones, a fourth-grader. "I want them to have a home, too."
This year, like every year, the brown bags went a long way on a cold Wednesday night.
For the father and daughter, each holds a quiet lesson in humanity and a reminder of life's riches.
For the crowd of men and women standing outside the Portland Rescue Mission, the modest meal was a simple gesture that spoke volumes.
Wading through the crowd, Jones held a sack lunch in her small outstretched hand. At the receiving end, a wrinkled man in a tattered coat reached out.
"God bless you," he said. "You're an angel."
An inspired tradition
It started with $30 and a stroke of inspiration.
On the eve of Thanksgiving 2006, Kwik Jones had a production-job paycheck in his pocket and a generous feeling.
"God just put it in my heart," says Jones, 36. "I wanted to do something."
Jones had enough money for two loaves of bread, two packs of sandwich meat and some other supplies. It stretched to 20 meals.
It wasn't much, but it was enough.
From a working-class Arkansas family, Jones wanted to teach his daughter an important life lesson. He and his wife, Maria, both work to support their blended family of seven children. They aren't rich by any means, but say they feel fortunate for what they have.
"This is something she'll store in her mind always," Jones says. "We're obligated to help the poor. I want her to know it's her responsibility in this community to help others."
Stephanie, 6 years old at the time, was happy to help. The duo headed downtown, where Jones remembered seeing crowds of homeless sleeping on sidewalks. When they arrived, they realized some of the people in line wouldn't be fed when the shelters ran out of food.
Afterward, Stephanie asked her father, "Can we do this again?"
A Thanksgiving tradition was born.
Olivia Bucks/The OregonianUnderneath the Burnside Bridge, Stephanie Jones, 9, left and her father, Kwik Jones, carry brown bag dinners to the homeless.A humbling distribution
The following year, Jones started saving early. He put away $80. And the pair assembled 100 sack dinners, which they distributed with the help of Stephanie's oldest brother.
Last year, Jones, who also writes and produces plays, had money leftover from one of his shows. With $130, Jones recruited his childhood friend Ayric Payton for help. Payton, 37, enlisted a couple of his kids.
Together, the Joneses and the Paytons made 175 sack dinners. In front of the Rescue Mission, the bags were gone in minutes.
"It's humbling," says Payton, a Coca-Cola salesman. "We're not giving them much. It's not turkey, it's not gravy, not stuffing. My job is good, but it wouldn't take that long, especially in this economy, for me to end up homeless."
The feeling spread to his children.
"I want to do it every year," says son Ayric Thomas, 18, a recent Parkrose High School graduate. "The people are nice. They take what they can get."
This year, the economy took its toll on the families' finances. But at the last minute, members at their church, Hughes Memorial United Methodist, chipped in for enough food for 100 sack meals.
It wasn't as much as last year, but it was enough.
Already Jones has started fundraising. After handing out bags Wednesday night, he held a small performance of his new play at the Someday Lounge in Chinatown. He called the fundraiser "The Brown Bag Benefit."
"I'm trying to raise awareness, hoping that we'll inspire people to do something for their community," Jones says. "Even this little thing we do means something to a lot of people."
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
I appreciate your concern for our friends and neighbors who arestruggling with homelessness and do not have a warm, safe place tosleep. I want you to know that I share your concern and yourfrustration.
I also want you to know that I am taking steps right nowto help those in need. Last week, Multnomah County and the City of Portland, in conjunctionwith our community non-profits, opened winter warming shelters forfamilies, men, women and couples. For the next five months, theseshelters will provide a warm, safe place to sleep for an additional 120people each night.
For more information visit
My first priority is to find the money necessary to keep these sheltersopen year-round, so that April 1st, the individuals who still need aplace to sleep can go to these shelters for help.
Second, I support your suggestion to change current camping policies sothat churches may allow people to camp in their parking lots. While Iam interested in changing additional camping policies, my ability toaffect policy in this area is limited. The County's jurisdiction onlyapplies to the rural areas of Multnomah County; the City of Portlandregulates camping policy within the city limits.
Third, I am working to increase the number of churches and faith groupswho provide shelter through the Daybreak family shelter. Daybreakrelies on churches to provide nightly shelter to their guests. We hopeto add an additional twelve churches during the winter months. If youare interested in getting involved, please visit
Multnomah County is also considering a short-term rent-assistancecampaign for homeless families that we hope to launch within the nextfew weeks. I wholeheartedly agree with you that affordable housing isthe most human way to end homelessness. None of these actions will solve the problem, but I know we can make adifference for many people who are currently without shelter. Iappreciate your thoughts and hope you will keep in touch.
The Daybreak Shelter Network is a unique collaboration between Human Solutions and 30 area congregations. It is one of the very few homeless family shelters that keeps families together and the only one in Mid and East County that is completely secular.
A bit about the Daybreak Shelter:
• The Daybreak Shelter provides shelter for 365 days and nights each year. Last year Human Solutions provided more than 4,500 nights of shelter and13,500 meals to homeless families.
• Daybreak houses families for 30 days while providing intensive and one-on-one case management
• Ensures that most families coming into shelter move directly into permanent or transitional housing in about 30 days.
• Families of any configuration can stay – including single parent, two parent, same sex parent, extended families, families headed by mothers, fathers, grandparents, etc. – and the family stays together while at our shelter .
• Families have access to Human Solutions’ other services: employment training, helpful
classes, computer lab for job and home searches, access to other educational tools, and a supportive network to help the family overcome homelessness – for good.
Some host congregations take turns housing homeless families overnight, while other supporting congregations assist by providing services and volunteers. Volunteers cook meals, implement enrichment activities to engage children in play and learning, and assist in transporting families from the host congregation’s site to Human Solutions’ Day Center.
Human Solutions’ holistic approach to breaking the cycle of poverty begins as soon as the family enters the Daybreak Shelter Network. Our goal while families are staying at Daybreak is to provide a set of services to give them the tools they need to become self-sufficient.
Looking for shelter?
If you and your family are homeless, or know of a family that is experiencing homelessness, call 503-548-0200 to find out about our Daybreak Shelter or housing opportunities for homeless families.
Want to help?
If your faith organization would like to find out more about joining the Daybreak Shelter Network, either as a host or supportive congregation, please call 503-256-2280.
How did the Daybreak Shelter make a difference last year?
68 households received shelter and support at our Daybreak homeless shelter.
87% of families who stayed at the Daybreak Shelter moved directly into safe, stable housing.
100% of the school aged children staying with homeless families at Daybreak Shelter will attend school within three days of entering the program.
75% of the homeless families placed into permanent housing will remain in permanent housing for one year or more.
What support does the shelter need?
In 2008 alone, Human Solutions received 3,486 requests for shelter, a significant increase from the year before. With this increase in families seeking solutions to homelessness, Human Solutions needs to keep our operations at full capacity. Please consider a donation to our Homeless Children’s Fund to make a difference in homelessness in our community. We also need more volunteers to help us keep our Daybreak Shelter operating. Click here to find out more about volunteer opportunities!
Many thanks to the Daybreak Shelter Network!
The Host and Supportive Congregations who make the work of the
Daybreak Shelter Network possible include:
Ascension Catholic Church
7507 SE Yamhill, Portland 97215
Sacred Heart Catholic Church
3910 SE 11th Ave., Portland OR 97202
Bennett Chapel United Methodist Church
13047 SE Ramona, Portland 97236
Cherry Park United Methodist Church
1736 SE 106th Ave., Portland 97216
Montavilla United Methodist Church
232 SE 80th Ave., Portland 97215
Tongan Fellowship of the Untied Methodist Church
4600 SE 97th, Portland 97266
East County Church of Christ
24375 SE Stark, Gresham 97030
Faith United Methodist Church
27400 SE Stark, Troutdale 97060
Eastrose Unitarian Universalist Fellowship
1133 NE 181st, PO Box 298, Gresham, 97030
Gresham United Methodist Church
620 NW 8th, Gresham, 97030
825 NW 18th Ave, Portland, OR 97209
Gethsemane Lutheran Church
11560 SE Market, Portland, 97216
St. Timothy Lutheran Church
14500 SE Powell, Portland 97236
Metro Church of Christ
1525 NW Division, Gresham 97030
Parkrose United Methodist Church
11111 NE Knott, Portland 97220
Resurrection Lutheran Church
1700 NE 132nd, Portland 97230
Gateway Baptist Church
13300 NE San Rafael St., Portland OR 97230
Rose City Park United Methodist
5830 NE Alameda, Portland 97213-3426
Fremont United Methodist Church
2620 NE Fremont, Portland, 97212
St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal
1704 NE 43rd, Portland 97213
St. David's Episcopal Church
2800 SE Harrison, Portland 97214
All Saints Catholic Church
3847 NE Glisan, Portland OR 97232
Colonial Heights Presbyterian Church
2828 SE Stephens, Portland, 97214
St. Ignatius Catholic Church
3400 SE 43rd Ave, Portland, OR
St. Philip Neri Catholic Church
2408 SE 16th, Portland 97214
Waverly Heights United Church of Christ
3300 SE Woodward, Portland 97202
Peace Church of the Brethren
12727 SE Market, Portland 97233
Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church
9800 SE 92nd, Portland 97266
PDX Bible Church
14950 SE Gladstone, Porltand OR 97236
Monday, November 16, 2009
By Janie Har, The Oregonian
October 13, 2009, 5:31PM
Homeless campers assembled outside City Hall for the last two weeks were quietly booted out Tuesday morning by Mayor Sam Adams.
Homeless advocate Art Rios said the mayor arrived about 7:45 a.m. and told the crowd to leave. Adams' spokesman Roy Kaufmann confirmed the mayor's actions, saying that the city has a firm anti-camping ordinance.
"We recognize there's an issue to be addressed and we're working on it, but the anti-camping ordinance has to be enforced equitably and fairly," Kaufmann said.
The campers had been sleeping on the sidewalk outside City Hall since Sept. 28, arriving after city parks closed at 9 p.m. and leaving before 7 a.m. The number of people in sleeping bags ranged from a dozen to 23 a night. The group became visible Monday when they stuck around all day.
Rios and his group have called for a temporary ban of the camping ordinance and the creation of more shelter beds for the winter. They plan to hold a press conference at 7 p.m. tonight in front of City Hall.
In 2008, homeless people camped outside City Hall to protest sweeps. Then-Mayor Tom Potter let them stay, but was forced to ask police to move them out when the crowd swelled to 100 and got out of control.
In June, a circuit court judge threw out the city's ban against sitting or lying on sidewalks. But the city still maintains a prohibition against camping.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
UN special rapporteur Raquel Rolnik says the burden falls most heavily on the very poor, leaving the extent of the housing crisis invisible to many in the US. Photograph: Mario Tama/Getty Images
A United Nations special investigator who was blocked from visiting the US by the Bush administration has accused the American government of pouring billions of dollars into rescuing banks and big business while treating as "invisible" a deepening homeless crisis.
Raquel Rolnik, the UN special rapporteur for the right to adequate housing, who has just completed a seven-city tour of America, said it was shameful that a country as wealthy as the US was not spending more money on lifting its citizens out of homelessness and substandard, overcrowded housing.
"The housing crisis is invisible for many in the US," she said. "I learned through this visit that real affordable housing and poverty is something that hasn't been dealt with as an issue. Even if we talk about the financial crisis and government stepping in in order to promote economic recovery, there is no such help for the homeless."
She added: "I think those who are suffering the most in this whole situation are the very poor, the low-income population. The burden is disproportionately on them and it's of course disproportionately on African-Americans, on Latinos and immigrant communities, and on Native Americans."
Rolnik toured Chicago, New York, Washington, Los Angeles and Wilkes-Barre, a Pennsylvania town where this year the first four sheriff sales – public auctions of seized property – in the county included 598 foreclosed properties. She also visited a Native American reservation.
The US government does not tally the numbers but interested organisations say that more than 3 million people were homeless at some point over the past year. The fastest growing segment of the homeless population is families with children, often single parents. On any given night in Los Angeles, about 17,000 parents and children are homeless. Most will be found a place in a shelter but many single men and women are forced to sleep on the streets.
Los Angeles, which is described as the homeless capital of America, has endured an 18-fold increase in housing foreclosures. Evictions from owned and rented homes have risen about tenfold, with 62,400 people forced out last year in Los Angeles county.
Welfare payments are not enough to meet the rent, let alone food and other necessities. A single person on welfare living in Los Angeles receives $221 (£133) a month – an amount that hasn't changed in a decade. The rent for one room is typically nearly double that.
Rolnik said that while she saw difficult conditions in all the places she visited, the worst was on the Native American reservation of Pine Ridge in South Dakota.
"You see total hopelessness, despair, very bad conditions. Nothing I have seen in other cities compared to the physical condition of the housing at Pine Ridge. Nothing compared to the overcrowding. They're not visible, they're isolated, they're far away. They're just lost," she said.
Rolnik says that one of the greatest matters of shame is that the US has the resources to provide decent housing for everyone.
"In the US, it's feasible to provide adequate housing for all. You have a lot of money, a lot of dollars available. You have a lot of expertise. This is a perfect setting to really embrace housing as a human right," she said.
Rolnik has given a verbal report to the US state department, which has a month to respond to her observations. She will submit a final written report to the UN human rights council early next year.
Wednesday, November 04, 2009
I wanted and needed to share this with all the readers of this blog.
Joe Anybody 11.4.09
---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Wed, 4 Nov 2009 08:05:55
From: GROWS Committee
To: The GROWS Committee
Subject: Lacking Indoor Shelter Options,
Hundreds in Portland Hope to Be Allowed to Camp
*One month and 3.5 inches of cold rain into the rainy season already, AND
The right to simple shelter is still not on the City Council's Agenda this
November 4, 2009
*Should hundreds of cold, damp, un-sheltered Portlanders be allowed to camp
legally - if in an orderly manner, in approved places?*
Is it in the public interest to rationally de-criminalize camping in
Portland, so that record numbers of homeless local people can legally cover
themselves against the wind and rain*?*
Should people be allowed to camp in plain view, rather than have to find
places to hide in order to avoid being randomly roused by police or thugs in
the night*?* (Hiding in order to sleep is dangerous, especially for those
Should healthier, less vulnerable adults be allowed to camp out-doors, which
would likely free up indoor shelter spaces this winter for use by more
vulnerable people, who might otherwise be turned away from shelters already
at capacity*?* (Improved triage would not be the intention of "easing the
camping ban," but a likely and increasingly necessary side effect of this).
*Yes. For many reasons, we believe that and easing of **the camping
ban**is clearly in the public interest.
We are calling on all *people of conscience* to help try to convince a
remarkably slow-to-react Portland City Council that a public-emergency has
for some time been unfolding all around us.*
There is *unprecedented* suffering among *record* numbers of (mostly
first-time) homeless people in Portland today. Legal, orderly camping in
designated places would offer immediate relief for them.
Public health and public safety are increasingly at risk because of the
We are all connected. The suffering of the poor will inevitably affect each
of us. They need to stay dry and safe.
Portland's "anti-camping law" will soon be up for debate and modification by
the City Council.
(see, City Code Ch.14A.50.020
Please consider contacting each City Council member to let them know *your
views*, and thus help to *counter the heavy-handed influence* of various
business alliances, right-wing elements within the Portland Police Bureau,
their favorite politicians, and other insensitive or misinformed people who
want to leave the camping ban in place. Behind the scenes efforts are being
made to water down the upcoming reform of the camping ban.
You can check to see when and how the *camping issue* (and other issues)
will come up on the* Portland **City Council’s Agenda* by looking at the *
City Auditor's web page* at
(there click on “Current Council Agenda” and/or “Upcoming Agenda Items")
*For more facts and perspectives about the camping ban . . .
*as well as other local efforts to provide opportunities for all
un-sheltered and jobless people
for food-growing, shelter-building and other sustainable work opportunities,
visit our WordPress.com Blog at:
*Trying to muster peace through simple justice,*
**the **G.R.O.W.S.** Committee
** *(a policy advisory council of gardening enthusiasts)
*-->* (end of the short version of the G.R.O.W.S. e-mail message) *---*
Here now, if you'd like to read on, you may find the perspectives below
If you're not in the mood now, Portland's anti-camping law (along with other
human rights and economic development issues) are discussed further at
Some Facts and Misconceptions About Portland Area Homelessness:
The great majority of those experiencing homelessness *as of this year* in
the Portland metro area are *not* 'homeless by choice', as un-informed or
judgmental people like to suggest. Most of them are *not* mentally ill --
though continued life on the streets can lead to this. Most of them are *not
* addicts, nor criminals, nor road warriors. How many excuses for continued
ignoring or persecution of the socially disadvantaged do we need to keep
There has been a *great shift* in the homeless population locally, and
across the U.S. Because of the economic downturn (and the prospects of a
"jobless recovery"), most of the homeless today are on the streets for the
first time. The majority of those without shelter are seeking work and can't
find any. Thousands are working only occasionally as temps or part-time for
lack of a better economy, and they simply can not afford housing. Waiting
lists for assistance are two years long. Hundreds of the newly homeless in
the Portland area are families with children.
The numbers we hear vary greatly, depending on when and how the count was
conducted. If we count those who are in temporary or precarious housing
situations (staying with friends, or mere acquaintences, or allowed to sleep
in garages, etc.), the numbers in the Portland area reach beyond thirty
Among those on the streets, suffering from the rain and cold is made worse
by persecution. They are foced to hide in order to sleep, since it is
illegal under the current Portland law to cover themselves with a tarp or
tent. It is also illegal to "camp" in ones car, even if that is the only
safe place you have.
*The shelters are full already.*
Hundreds are being turned away nightly in Portland alone. City officials
admit they are well short of the ability to allow all who are suffering to
come inside. We are at least a thousand shelter spaces short in Portland
Locally, this issue -- the criminalization of sleeping in a tent or car --
is among the most important *human rights issues* of our time. Sally
Erickson, Director of Portland Coordinating Committee to End Homelessness
(CCEH) told those in attendance at the Oct. 21 (public) meeting of the CCEH
that, "*so far** *the City Council has mostly only been hearing from people
. . . who want to keep the camping ban in place." There are powerful people
in our City who would rather that the homeless remain hidden. 'Out of sight
out of mind' is a dangerous philosophy when it comes to so many sick,
We need to tell the City Council that with record numbers of homeless people
on the streets for the last year already, we had hoped that the City Council
would have taken up the camping issue long before the start of the current
rainy season. There are too many people on the streets!*
At least 10,000 People Are Now Sleeping Outside in the Metro Area*
The economy has thousands of people terribly stressed for lack of any
shelter. The camping ban is a shameful way to treat people who have no
shelter options. Half way through the so called "Ten Year Plan to End
Homelessness," the number of *newly* homeless citizens has quickly gotten
way beyond the reach of our local Bureaucrats. The Ten Year Plan uses a
housing-with-case-management approach developed by the Bush Administration,
focusing primarily on the chronically homeless.
Most of those experiencing homelessness today are *not* 'chronically' prone
to homelessness, but rather are high functioning, unemployed people who are
seeking work. Most of these people do not know where to turn. Most of these
people are *not* "homeless by choice" as many like to suggest. Locally, most
of them are long-time Portlanders who were working and housed up until
The *majority* of homeless among us locally these days have become homeless
for the *first time* in the just the last two years. Most of them are still
looking for work. Far from 'choosing' homelessness, they are very
disappointed, stressed, and afraid.
Most of the Portland area homeless today are either not qualified for
housing assistance, or are on two year long waiting lists. Our
are already full*, with hundreds being turned away nightly. Most don't even
bother trying to check in any more.
*Under the anti-camping law as it is, it is illegal for a property owner or
a church to allow anyone to camp on their grounds. *
What is left for those stuck without options in the rain? Pitching a tent or
a tarp or a piece of cardboard in an out-of-the-way spot? Sorry, that's
illegal. Adding to their misery is the fact that the Portland Police Bureau
has a serious problem with bullies in their ranks. Police often illegally
seize and dispose of the property of homeless citizens. Oppressive sweeps
can leave a person devastated, and without any possessions. It is happening
The camping ban is *dangerous* for *public health* and *public safety*. The
suffering of thousands of our neighbors across the Metro, caught out in the
cold and rain, will inevitably affect each of us. Like ignoring a forecast
hurricane, a culture which forces its homeless to hide is like an arrogant
mariner in a storm path, failing to make preparations.
*Most decent citizens agree that the camping ban should eased or** set
The question is, how effective will the Council's measures be? The homeless
population in the Portland metro area has reached 10,000. At least 20,000
more are 'couch surfing' or living temporarily with friends or family. Most
of these are stressed out people are looking for jobs that aren't there.
With these kinds of numbers at hand, the City Council is now likely, it
seems, to modify the camping ban to allow limited camping.
This past summer, the CCEH ( the homeless helping government agency) of
Portland/ Multnomah County, called together an Alternatives Workgroup to
examine options to expand immediate sheltering needs of our fast growing
homeless population. They have recently made their recommendations to
Commissioner Nick Fish, who has pledged to propose some "alternatives for
safe, dry places to sleep" to the full City Council.
Note: *many* individuals, churches, and activist groups have been asking the
CCEH and more recently Nick Fish's Office to take such an initiative years
now> We had been hoping that they would do so *before* the start of the
current rainy season. Better late than never! Opposition to earlier, more
timely discussions of the Anti-camping law in the City Council have been
lead by the powerful right-wing forces inside the Portland Police Bureau,
the Portland Business Alliance, and by City Commissioner Amanda Fritz.
*The Oregonian* headline of October 22 came out one day after the City's new
'Sidewalks Management Plan' (championed by Fritz) was given force of law.
Note: the old Sit-Lie prohibition was ruled unconstitutional in June of this
year. *Despite* all the foot-dragging about the camping issue, the Camping
Ban is *soon to come up for debate*. The Anti-camping law is now under legal
challenge by the Oregon Law
*The Good News Is ...*
Upon the recommendations of the CCEH's Alternatives Workgroup, Commissioner
Fish is planning to propose an easing of the camping ban in early November,
along with other suggestions as to how homeless people can have more safe
places to sleep. The proposal which Commissioner Fish is *likely* planning
to present to the Portland City Council will include the following elements:
*1.* Portland would adopt a position similar to that of the city of Eugene's
'SAFE' camping program (see, Eugene City Code, Ch.4.816). This will allow
churches and private businesses to legally let small numbers of people sleep
on their property either in tents or in cars.
*2.* Portland would to ease the anti-camping law to allow for tents on *city
property* during night time hours during the winter months.
*3.* Guidelines for proper camping behavior (place, time, and manner
restrictions) will be made public so that the rules are clear to campers,
citizens and police.
Now that the Camping ban is up for debate, the question becomes, *How
effective* would these proposals be in helping the homeless to have enough
safe, dry places to sleep? Assuming that these proposals are passed by our
City Council, will this be enough to help so many unsheltered people? The
answer, we believe is yes and no.
*This month* the City Council is likely to begin talking more seriously
about these issues. Or they may continue to avoid talking about them.* It's
up to us* encourage them to get more serious, and to remind them that there
are far too many people living on the streets.
You can read more about the upcoming camping debate...
at Dignity Advocate's Blog.
*Other NEWS* there discussed includes:
How (as in Seattle and in Eugene) the churches and charities can play a key
role in Portland.
How Portland churches and (certain zoned) businesses will likely be allowed
to accommodate campers where possible. Where are the leaders of the Churches
when it comes to an effective summit on homelessness?
*The question of whether a policy is being drafted which would allow night
time tent camping only on public lands, requiring hundreds of people to pack
up and move on each morning, even in the rain.* While the proposal to
partially lift the ban is good, we are concerned that a watered down version
of a revised camping ban may just keep hundreds or thousands wet.
*The issue of utilizing idle City properties and mothballed resources for
LOWER cost sheltering.*
Not everyone who is homeless is likely to find a church or a business which
will allow them to camp on their property for prolonged periods. There are
too many un-sheltered people to expect that generous churches, businesses
and private citizens will accommodate anywhere-near-all of those seeking
*The issue of another 'Dignity Village' and/or tent cities.*
Should non-profits which receive city funds be required to have clean/sober
leadership handling the community money? Should leadership of any new
'village' be more carefully selected? What does effective self-policing and
self-government need to involve? When, where, and how can *simple economic
development* best happen?
The need for donation drives for camping equipment for individuals as well
Will local government -- as much as they may spend on expensive rent
vouchers -- will our CCEH or the County buy any inexpensive tents, yurts,
strawbales or practical camping equipment for the homeless? Why citizens
need to help protect public health and safety when government efforts fall
The issue of unchecked, consistent bullying by a few of the Portland Police,
and by certain private security forces. Making things even tougher on the
homeless, this law has been routinely enforced by the Portland Police Bureau
in a more aggressive than called for manner. The silence of the Portland
City Council on this is frightening even by L.A. standards. See Dignity
Advocate's Blog Page entitled,
"The Criminalization of
*The issue of whether **a City or regional emergency **declarations **are
called for. IF modifying Portland's anti-camping law is Insufficient to
alleviate mass suffering, what's next? *The economy has become a disaster
for a quarter million unemployed Oregonians, and is already an (officially
undeclared) *EMERGENCY* for thousands among us.
*And 'The Bigger Picture':
The Need for Locally-Initiated, Ground-Up, Sustainable Economic Development.
* Don't let huge national and international corporate-sponsored-lobbyists
control YOUR local economic planning -- especially at time when greatly
simplified economy (i.e. deliberately lower consumption, not higher) is
needed for the sake of our species' survival.
P.O. Box 3482 * Portland, OR * 97208
Sunday, October 25, 2009
As you know we were swept on Wednesday the 30th from the port of Seattle’s T-107 Park. It was shocking and shattering. Most of ushave been separated from everything we own, except what will fill abackpack or two.
by Shannon Moriarty
Published October 20, 2009 @ 09:40AM PT
The 97 year old homeless woman from LA is no longer sleeping on the streets. Her story, published Friday in the LA Times, garnered national disbelief and prompted service providers to act quickly to move her into housing.
Bessie Mae Berger was 97 years old and living in a beat up 1973 Chevy Suburban with her two sons. The LA Times exposed their plight on Friday, detailing how the trio sleeps, moves from parking lot to parking lot, and occasionally panhandles for food. Their plight caught national attention, prompting LA and California authorities to take immediate action.
Today, the three are safely housed - together, as they wished - in the California Retirement Villa. It's a temporary situation, currently slated to last three months. But the organization says they are committed to helping this family obtain long-term benefits.
Let's breathe a collective sigh of relief now that one especially fragile woman and her two elderly sons are off the streets. What whatever you do, don't get complacent. There are thousands of other elderly homeless individuals hidden in cars, alleys, tent cities, and shelters across the U.S.
Where is the outrage that will move them into housing?
Saturday, October 24, 2009
Submitted by Erin Yanke on Wed, 09/02/2009 - 8:12pm
program date: Wed, 09/02/2009
program: Circle A Radio
As the number of people living on the streets continues to increase during this recession, many cities are passing ordinances restricting survival activities such as sleeping, sitting down, and asking for spare change. The National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty released a report in July called Homes Not Handcuffs.
The 190 page report says that city ordinances frequently serve as a tool for criminalizing homelessness.
The report also examines violations of the US Constitution and human rights law within these measures. Here in Portland, the Sit-Lie Ordinance has been declared unconstitutional twice. Still, it looks like Mayor Sam Adams is intent on finding a replacement for the defunct ordinance.
Tonight on Circle A Radio you'll hear mostly from people who are currently homeless in Portland.
We recorded this with the help of Heather Mosher and Wendy Kohn of Kwamba Productions, and Ibrahim Mubarek, one of the founders of Dignity Village. We visited several sites in Portland where homeless folks gather so we could talk to them first hand about their experiences.
Title: Homelessness in Portland
Producer: Circle A Radio
Length: 55:12 minutes (22.11 MB)
Format: MP3 Mono 22kHz 56Kbps (CBR)
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Sunday, October 18, 2009
Video 1 Whats This Protest About
Video 2 No Restrooms at Night
Video 3 Conduct Contract
video 4 Solidarity & Food
Thursday, October 08, 2009
MAYOR SAM ADAMS is seeking feedback on elements of a new sidewalk management plan, which will replace the city's defunct and unconstitutional sit-lie law. Adams and City Commissioner Nick Fish told business leaders two weeks ago that they planned a new kind of sidewalk management package instead of another iteration of the sit-lie
["We Mean it This Time," News, Sept 17].
The new draft plan, posted on the mayor's website on Thursday, September 17, plans to align all city codes affecting sidewalk use in the same place, create a criminal zero-tolerance approach to illegal activity like offensive littering and harassment, improve homeless services, designate sidewalk through zones, establish a downtown retail strategy, and increase the number of restrooms available on the street.
"Portland has 4,804 miles of sidewalks, including 37,744 street corners; the Westside of downtown Portland alone comprises 152 miles of sidewalks and 1,778 corners," says Adams' website, explaining that a multitude of uses "must all share a sidewalk between five- and 15-feet wide."
So far, reactions among homeless advocates and those who have watch-dogged these issues since the city last passed a sit-lie law in 2007 have been mixed.
"If it's going to be something that's fair to everybody and used equally, then I'm okay with it," says Patrick Nolen from activist group Soapbox Under the Bridge. "The city needs to govern such things. My problem with the old law was it was used unequally against people experiencing homelessness."
Others are more skeptical.
"I think they're still grasping at straws, trying to find some way of telling people they can't sit, lie, or stand on a given area of the sidewalk," says Copwatch activist Dan Handelman. "They're trying to paint a happy face on what they've done before, but I doubt it will be enforced fairly."
The mayor hopes to have the new package approved by December at the latest.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
For the second time in less than two years, a group of homeless people are camping outside of City Hall to protest an ordinance they view as criminalizing and stopping them from getting a good night’s sleep.
Beginning at 9 o’clock this evening, 20 individuals set up their sleeping bags and other belongings along the southern side of the front entrance of City Hall. Art Rios, who is organizing the protest, says that the people are camping this year for the same reason as they were last year.
“We want the anti-camping ordinance to be suspended,” he says. “We want a campsite that’s safe.”
The anti-camping ordinance is a city-wide ordinance that bans camping on public property. Homeless people and many advocates says the ordinance criminalizes homeless people who are forced to sleep in public spaces at night because they do not have access to shelters or other places to sleep.
For three weeks during May 2008, a group of homeless people ranging in size from 40 to 120 people protested and camped outside of City Hall to protest the anti-camping ordinance and the sidewalk obstruction ordinance (known as the “sit-lie” ordinance), which illegalized sitting or lying down on the sidewalk during the day. In June 2009, that ordinance was ruled unconstitutional by Judge Stephen Bushong in district court.
Rios says that he plans to have organized camps at City Hall Monday through Friday, 9pm to 7am. That, he says, is enough to get eight hours of sleep, but also will not “interrupt City Hall’s business,” as well as get the attention of politicians, advocates, bureaucrats and the public.
“I want to show the City…that a camp size of 10 to 15 people can be here and not bother their day to day process,” Rios says.
There is currently a sub-group of the Coordinating Committee to End Homelessness, the group charged with implementing and overseeing the City’s 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness, that is currently looking at ways for homeless people who do not have access to shelter to sleep outside at night. The group is hoping to some of those proposals in place in the next three to six months. Rios is skeptical.
“I hear about all these proposals, and there is no action happening,” Rios says.
Check the October 2 edition of Street Roots for more information about the City’s efforts, as well as more information about the protest.
By Amanda Waldroupe
This article was originally found and written for STREET ROOTS
Friday, September 18, 2009
Author: Luke reposting for Eric Sheptock
16 Sep 2009
16 Sep 2009 03:20:54 PM
This work is in the public domain
Fenty: Homeless not welcome in city parks
Now that Fenty has closed Franklin Shelter and other shelters seem about to close, Mayor "Two Face" Fenty seems to have ordered the police to declare war on the downtown homeless. So far Fenty has failed in this, to the consternation of certain businesses in places like Chinatown.
From Eric Sheptock:
The Unwelcome Homeless
In November of 2008 a Washington City Paper article indicated that the homeless are not welcome in the libraries of our nation's capital. An August 2009 New York times article addressed the criminalization of poverty nationally. Then, a September 2009 Washington Examiner article mentioned that the homeless are not welcome in the parks of Downtown Washington, DC.
It's no military secret -- the homeless are America's most unwanted.
What's most disturbing about this news is that our public officials are often the ones leading the charge against the homeless.Most homeless advocates wouldn't take offense to any reasonable request, such as wanting a homeless person to be presentable and well-mannered; but the mentally ill are one of the most underserved populations in the city, often leading to some very public psychotic episodes. And many of the homeless wouldn't loiter around businesses and other public places if they had somewhere to go.
But, as this most recent article pointed out, DC Mayor Adrian Fenty closed the Franklin School Shelter on September 26th, 2008 and is now shutting down the Permanent Supportive Housing Program (Housing First). Insomuch as the Franklin closure was predicated on the creation of Housing First, this amounts to a bait and switch and to dirty politics at their worst -- leaving the homeless with nowhere to go.
As a matter of fact, the two parks that were pictured in the article were Franklin Park (which is right across the road from the now defunct shelter) and McPherson Park (which is one block from Franklin Park). Both business owners and tourists alike are bothered by the existence of homeless people in these locations -- the former because it "interferes" with business and the latter because they expect the poor to be treated better in the capital of the wealthiest nation in the world.It is not just the business community around Franklin Square that wants the homeless gone.
Several homeless people were put out of the food court at the One Judiciary Square government office building on September 9th, 2009 -- some having just made purchases. I just happened to be exiting the subway system nearby as they spoke to security and the cops. The homeless told me stories of abuse and of their rights having been violated. Upon further investigation, I found out that, just days earlier, the mayor had met with entrepreneurs from around Chinatown and Union Station.
They asked him to do for them what he had done for the businesses of Franklin Square, by getting rid of the homeless. The mayor then gave police the order to clear the homeless out of this part of town, which accounts for the incident at the food court. Oddly enough, one week later the Examiner article pointed out that the homeless are still present in that part of town. The mayor hadn't done what they gave him credit for doing after all.It is not just the homeless who have fallen victim to the anti-poverty policies of the mayor.
In July of this year, Mayor Fenty threatened to cut off the benefits of women receiving TANF (Temporary Assistance For Needy Families) if the mothers receiving $428/month through this program fail to seek employment. He is also slashing programs that enable those women to receive daycare for their children. Without daycare, the mothers of young children can't go to work and are left to wonder when those in government will make the connection.Tensions continue to build between the business owners who have the mayor as their champion and the poor of DC.
It is only a matter of time before things boil over into a major incident. The poor from across the city are spewing words of anger and hatred at the mayor. Protests against the Fenty administration's policies are being organized. The homeless are seriously discussing the possibility of open conflict with the police. As economic conditions continue to worsen (in spite of Bernanke's optimism), we're left to wonder just when people will reach their threshhold and unleash their wrath.
As for my part, I've instructed the homeless to come out in mass whenever the police bother any one of us or violate our rights. For the moment, all we plan to do is to stand together in large numbers and hope that's enough to send a strong message that we are tired of being pushed around. Time will tell.
Three more links
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
A ruling today coming from Multnomah County Courts tells The city of Portland that "they are unconstitutionally exceeding the city's authority, regarding the sit/lie law." The following report was found on (Portlands) Street Roots website
sit lie law
I re-posted this on Portland Indy Media at 6:45 PM The news just came out four hours ago. It looks like the state law over rides the cities inept law The original article is here from Street Roots breaking news: link to streetroots.wordpress.com (3:00 P.M.) Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge Stephen K. Bushong has ruled that the city of Portland's sidewalk-obstruction ordinance - commonly referred to as sit-lie, unconstitutionally exceeds the city's authority.
A long time coming
At last: Take one for The People!
Monday, June 22, 2009
I have a page on Joe-Anybody.com that is just for my videos that document the homeless and their on-going battle for dignity and justice... not to mention their civil and human rights as well!
The page with all my videos is right here:
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
The Privilege of Privacy and Homelessness
Written By Kirsten Anderberg
Written Feb. 5, 2007
Seattle, WA 2008 (Photo: K.Anderberg)
When I've been homeless, the hardest part has been the lack of privacy. The *privilege of privacy* is something many take for granted, but for those of us who have experienced homelessness firsthand, privacy becomes a mindset, rather than a physical reality. And that fortress of privacy within one's *mind* adds to the wide chasm between the housed and the homeless, often making homeless people seem "crazy" to housed folks. And when one has been forced to make *mental* doors that shut, since physical doors to shut for safety are nonexistent, it is as if there is a change to one's soul.
Homeless people are burdened with an obligation to hide, while given no privacy. Often homeless folks learn to "hide" mentally, like an ostrich hiding its head in the sand. It is a sanity tactic, even if it appears "nuts" to people with privacy privilege. The ability to shut a door with 4 walls is something many take for granted. Such privacy affords a human a moment to let down his guard, emotionally and physically. Physical privacy allows a person some rest, a moment to rejuvenate. But homeless folks never get that moment to relax, let down their guard, and rejuvenate. Kept on alert at all times, guarding all belongings, and self, in public, is exhausting, both physically and mentally.
To many people who have been homeless and lived on the street, getting away from people is their greatest dream. Already tainted as untouchables or the unwanted, people have collectively left a bad taste in many homeless people's hearts. And the constant exposure to other people is as eroding as any physical weather elements. Honestly, I found the constant exposure to people to be much more dangerous to my mental and physical health than the exposure to cold, rain, etc., when homeless.
Seattle, WA 2008 (Photo: K.Anderberg)
This human need for privacy to regroup, to heal and recover from life's traumas, to feel safe, emotionally and physically, is something the "housing first" movement understands. A movement to HOUSE the homeless, with no strings attached, is a big step forward, being promoted by organizations such as "Pathways to Housing" (http://www.pathwaystohousing.org).
"Pathways" says it is inhumane to hold homeless people *hostage* with these obligations to get stable BEFORE receiving help with housing. And it is true that many people WITH housing, and large incomes as well, cannot conquer their drug addiction and mental health issues. So to ask low-income folks who are homeless to conquer those demons FIRST, as a prerequisite for housing, truly is cruel and inhumane.
"Pathways" believes "only housing cures homelessness." That sounds so simple, but it is quite profound. They are saying that the issues of drug abuse, mental illness and homelessness are separate. They are saying those 3 issues entail separate remedies, and that the remedy for homelessness is actually quite simple compared with the other issues. Curing homelessness merely entails providing stable and secure housing for the homeless. "Pathways" provides permanent housing of the tenant's choice, and then offers voluntary, not mandatory, programs to help tenants with other issues, such as drug addiction or depression.
"Pathways" understands that when homeless, survival is first and foremost. Self-improvement tales a back seat to survival, when homeless. By giving homeless people some privacy, some alone time, and some safety, and by giving them a *physical* door, so they can open the *mental* doors they shut long ago, "housing first" programs are healing the souls of homeless folks.
I am saying I believe the thing homeless people often crave, miss, and desire most, is PRIVACY. Often privacy is the most necessary missing element for the recovery of a homeless person's hope and faith, and a return of their dignity. Often privacy is the missing prerequisite for peace in the souls of many homeless people. The privacy becomes a symbol of safety, even. We come to know we are safe, because we have privacy.
Although many homeless people appear to be anti-social, due to shutting emotional/mental doors to compensate for no physical doors to shut, I think there is a process to opening back up to people, to trusting again, to re-integration...and ironically, getting alone time, and privacy, can be the first step to overcoming anti-social behaviors.
I was a homeless kid: in institutions, foster care, as a homeless teen. The message I got was I was an unwanted party crasher on this planet. I was taught to hide myself in this society as a child. I have been homeless as an adult in my past, as well. I have reoccurring nightmares involving doors. I will rent an apt., move in, then realize the front door has a 10 inch gap under it, between the floor and its bottom, making it easy to enter under the door, even when locked. Or I move into an apt. and the front door literally falls off when I shut it, as if it has no hinges, etc. My father broke down my locked bedroom door in a drunken rage in my teens. As a child in MacLaren Hall, a torturous holding place for unwanted and severely abused children in Los Angeles, I had no privacy, no doors to lock out the violent guards and children who were acting out what they had seen adults do to them. Doors are a big thing to me....and many others like me.
Locking doors are a privilege. If you don't have physical locking doors, you will make mental locking doors, as exemplified by the "bag lady" who appears oblivious to those around her in public. Mental doors are a form of *sanity*, not insanity. And as I've said, and as people at Housing First programs have come to understand, homeless people cannot safely open locked mental doors until there are safe physical doors to replace them.
"What is a room without a door, Which sometimes locks or stands ajar?
What is a room without a wall, To keep out sight and sound from all?
And dwellers in each room should have, The right to choose their own design
And color schemes to suit their own, Though differing from mine." - Pete Seeger
Wednesday, April 01, 2009
Source: Los Angeles Times
Published on 03-31-2009
Tent City residents gather as the city of Ontario starts the process of sorting out who may stay and who must leave. The city issued wristbands – blue for Ontario residents, who may stay, orange for people who need to provide more documentation, and white for those who must leave. The aim is to reduce the number of people living there from over 400 to 170.
Officials begin thinning out the encampment, saying the city can provide space only for those who once lived there and can prove it.
Dozens of Ontario police and code enforcement officers descended upon the homeless encampment known as Tent City early Monday, separating those who could stay from those to be evicted.
Large, often confused, crowds formed ragged lines behind police barricades where officers handed out color-coded wristbands. Blue meant they were from Ontario and could remain. Orange indicated they had to provide more proof to avoid ejection, and white meant they had a week to leave.
Many who had taken shelter at the camp -- which had grown from 20 to more than 400 residents in nine months -- lacked paperwork, bills or birth certificates proving they were once Ontario residents.
"When my husband gets out of jail he can bring my marriage certificate; will that count?" asked one tearful woman.
Another resident, clearly confused, seemed relieved to get a white band -- not understanding it meant she had to leave.
Pattie Barnes, 47, who had her motor home towed away last week, shook with anger.
"They are tagging us because we are homeless," she said, staring at her orange wristband. "It feels like a concentration camp."
Ontario officials, citing health and safety issues, say it is necessary to thin out Tent City. The move to dramatically reduce the population curtails an experiment begun last year to provide a city-approved camp where homeless people would not be harassed.
Land that includes tents, toilets and water had been set aside near Ontario International Airport for the homeless. Officials intended to limit the camp and its amenities to local homeless people, but did little to enforce that as the site rapidly expanded, attracting people from as far away as Florida.
"We have to be sensitive, and we will give people time to locate documents," said Brent Schultz, the city's housing and neighborhood revitalization director. "But we have always said this was for Ontario's homeless and not the region's homeless. We can't take care of the whole area."
Officials believe the local homeless number about 140, less than half of those currently in residence. Schultz wants to reduce Tent City to 170 people in a regulated, fenced-off area rather than the sprawling open-air campsite it has become.
No other city has offered to take in any of the homeless who Ontario officials say must leave.
"So far I have heard nothing," Schultz said.
Even before the large-scale action Monday, police last week moved out parolees and towed about 20 dilapidated motor homes. A list of safety rules, including one banning pets, has been posted. The city says there is a threat of dog bites and possible disease from the animals.
The no-pet order caused widespread anger and tears Monday as some homeless people said they could not imagine life without their dogs. Many have three or four and vowed to leave Tent City before giving the dogs up.
"I will go to jail before they take my dog," said an emotional Diane Ritchey, 47. "That's a part of me as much as anything. The dogs are as homeless as we are."
Cindy Duke, 40, hugged Ritchey, who was sobbing.
"I had to give up my 6-year-old son because I was homeless and I'll be damned if I give up my dog too," Duke said.
Celeste Trettin, 53, rolled up in a wheelchair. She and her husband have an Ontario address but have lived for years in a truck, parking wherever they found a safe place. Trettin, who got an orange wristband, said she believed she would be able to find the paperwork to prove she was from Ontario.
"We thought if we came here we could save some money, but now they have pulled the rug out from under us," said Trettin, who has fibromyalgia, a painful disorder.